PKK Denies Involvement in Deadly Blast in Gaziantep

BIANET 21.8.2012 – The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) denied it had any involvement in Monday’s deadly blast in the southeastern province of Gaziantep that killed nine people and injured 69. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and human rights organizations also condemned the incident. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) issued a statement through the Fırat news agency (ANF) and denied government officials’ claims that it was the culprit behind Monday’s lethal blast in the southeastern province of Gaziantep that killed nine people and injured 69 more.

“Our forces bear no connection to this blast. The public and our people know all too well that our forces would never [target] civilians… Our forces are complying with the call issued by the KCK’s (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council to refrain from clashes during the [Ramadan] holiday,” the PKK said in its statement.

Government officials blame the PKK

“The PKK has now begun directly attacking the civilian populace in Gaziantep after it failed to garner public support for its [goal of] igniting a ‘revolutionary people’s war.’ This new stage is also in harmony with the aims of the organization behind the PKK. The PKK wants to incite chaos on the streets. It is provoking our citizens. All sections [of society] must respond to this by exercising their common sense. No one should attempt to take over the [role] of our security forces,” Ömer Çelik, a deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from the southern province of Adana, said in his Twitter account.

Ömer Çelik also wrote another message on Twitter this morning after the PKK denied having any connections to the explosion:

“It is impossible for the PKK to openly claim responsibility for this attack which targeted the people. They might come out a few days later and say ‘a local initiative’ [was to blame for,]” he said. The AKP’s deputy leader Hüseyin Çelik also accused the PKK and the al-Assad regime in Syria for the attack in a statement he delivered on the daily Hürriyet.

“We were all in Gaziantep yesterday morning… We decided to talk over this matter with the officials as soon as possible to avoid the infection of Gaziantep with terrorism after its footsteps began thumping. While we were talking about this issue amongst ourselves this morning, this incident broke out,” he said. “The PKK is trying to spread terrorism everywhere to create a sense of horror in society because it does not recognize as Kurds those Kurds who are not among its own ranks and do not brew trouble as they do. It says they have no right to life, and this is all they are doing,” Hüseyin Çelik added.

“It is known that the PKK is working hand in hand with the Syrian intelligence Al-Muhaberat. Al-Assad’s current approach is to see the PKK as a friend, as he [believes that] ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ We do not possess complete information at the moment, but such a connection is a possibility, even if it is only a guess,” he said.

The AKP’s Gaziantep Deputy Şamil Tayyar also raised similar claims and suggested that the PKK and the Syrian intelligence had worked in unison to plot the deadly blast, both to brew chaos in Turkey and to intimidate her foreign policy.

BDP condemns the attack

The BDP also issued a written statement that strongly condemned the attack and called on the Turkish government to revise its policy toward Syria:

“Unfortunately, we are anxiously watching [how] the government’s foreign and domestic policies are dragging Turkey toward this perilious tide in the Middle East step by step. We [believe] it would be to great advantage if the government were to implement a bold and radical shift in its policies to take steps to ensure a permanent state of peace domestically and to revise its policy toward Syria [rather than] holding everyone responsible for the situation the country is mired in except for themselves,” the BDP said.

Sue Turton, a reporter for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcasting station who is currently in Gaziantep, also said concrete evidence for the PKK’s involvement in the attack was still missing despite the locals’ reaction to the PKK in wake of the blast. Turton also highlighted the speculations regarding Syrian involvement in the attack.

Deputy PM Atalay speaks on the blast

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said that 17 of the 69 people injured in the attack were still in hospital.Of the nine people who lost their lives, one was a woman, and four were children between the ages of 1.5 and 12, he said, adding that four more people critically injured in the explosion were still under intensive care.

The blast took place 30 meters away from a police headquarters, Minister Atalay said.

“Of course, the vehicle was stolen; I will not divulge the names of the cities. There were reinforced explosives inside the stolen vehicle, and it was brought from far away with a hauler. It entered [through the border] yesterday. [We] know the driver and where the vehicle was brought from. [Our] progress in shedding light on the matter was rapid,” he said.

Autopsy work is still underway, and the funerals are to be buried tomorrow, Atalay said, adding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also going to attend the funeral ceremony.Human rights organizations condemn the blast

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) issued a statement condemning the attack. The IHD and the TİHV have been constantly reminding that problems cannot be solved through policies and actions based on violence and war, the statement said. “Regardless of the aims and the identities of the culprits behind the incident, we condemn and find unacceptable such acts as this which pave the way for consequences that deprive people of their right to life and imperil their human rights,” they said. “We once more call upon the government and Parliament in particular, as well as all other officials, to show the courage to solve the country’s problems through peaceful and democratic means,” they added. (EKN/ÇT)